The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is a non-profit, scientific facility that conducts research on the most pressing challenges of forest and landscapes management around the world. With our global, multidisciplinary approach, we aim to improve human well-being, protect the environment, and increase equity. To do so, we help policymakers, practitioners and communities make decisions based on solid science about how they use and manage their forests and landscapes.

Capacity building, collaboration and partnerships are essential to finding and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges that the globe faces. We are proud to work with local and international partners. We are a member of the CGIAR Consortium and lead the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Our headquarters are in Bogor, Indonesia. We have offices in 8 countries across Asia, Latin America and Africa, and we work in more than 30 countries. Contact us for more information.

CIFOR and the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change

CIFOR has been a partner of the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC) since it was established in 2012. Following the first phase of the ASFCC project (2012-2013), CIFOR is currently undertaking research for Phase 2 (2014-2016).

CIFOR’s research is contributing towards the ASFCC objectives of:

  • Identifying learning interventions and best practices in social forestry and climate change for broader implementation and policy development outcomes
  • Strengthening local, national and regional knowledge sharing, communication and networking on social forestry and climate change

Background and rationale to CIFOR’s research:

REDD+ projects are being initiated in the forested areas of Southeast Asia; often in areas where swidden agriculture (or shifting cultivation) is widely practiced, and where swidden farmers – often disadvantaged minority peoples – have traditional rights to land and resources. There is a need to address the general misunderstanding on the part of governments and many non-governmental institutions about swidden systems, and of the potential carbon and other REDD+ co-benefits that might be realized from swidden landscapes. Misconceptions partly stem from a lack of consultation with local communities about their forest management practices, an under-appreciation of their dynamic social networks used to obtain and exchange resources, and an under-valuation of the ecosystem services flows (particularly carbon) in these dynamic forest mosaic landscapes over the longer-term.

It is imperative that REDD+ projects in the region are designed with an understanding of swidden systems, the constellation of resource use practices in which these communities are involved, and the dynamics of carbon stocks over the longer term. Only when these social and ecological systems are understood can the valuable inputs they make to a potential REDD+ project be realized. This is true particularly in regard to monitoring, reporting and benefit sharing systems.


CIFOR researcher, Lina Farida, facilitates a participatory mapping activity. Photo by Alice Bortzmeyer

CIFOR research objectives:

  • To understand how existing horizontal and vertical social networks can serve to enhance opportunities and diminish obstacles for forest communities to participate meaningfully in and benefit from REDD+ projects.
  • To understand how local knowledge, practices, institutions, and local resource management (including shifting cultivation systems) can contribute to achieving REDD+ objectives, thus enhancing REDD+ project outcomes.
  • To understand how local resource management systems including shifting cultivation (with varying spatial and temporal characteristics) contribute to carbon sequestration and stocks as well as to REDD+ co-benefits.

Research questions:

  • What are the spatial and temporal scales of shifting cultivation systems in selected landscapes?
  • What are the carbon stocks and species diversity at different stages of shifting cultivation systems (swidden fields and fallows of varying ages) as well as in other forest management systems of the shifting cultivation communities?
  • How do the forest management systems of the shifting cultivators contribute to local people’s livelihoods (including food security)?
  • What are the most important socio-economic factors that influence land-use decision making within selected shifting cultivation communities?
  • How does “multi-locality” of shifting cultivation households and communities and their existing social networks (such as rural-urban and rural-rural interactions) influence information and resource exchange within the communities, and what are the implications for livelihoods and food security?

CIFOR researchers and villagers crossing the river during a ground check. Photo by Firmus Juandi

Research approach:

With partners in Indonesia, Vietnam and Lao PDR, CIFOR is conducting:

  • Comparative reviews of existing social forestry practices and their related governance systems in Indonesia
  • Legal and policy review of social and community forestry in Vietnam over past three decades
  • Social and economic assessments of migration, multi-locality and livelihood resilience of swidden communities in Lao PDR
  • Field inventories of fallow forests and their contribution to local livelihoods in Lao PDR
  • Participatory observations and focus group discussions at the local and sub-national level in each study country.
  • Assessment of the land use dynamics in swidden landscapes and their corresponding carbon flows in the field sites of all three study countries

Research sites:
CIFOR’s research is being conducted across three countries. We work in different levels, involving local communities as well as district, provincial and national level actors.

  • Indonesia: Kapuas Hulu District, West Kalimantan
  • Vietnam: Con Cuông district, Nghe An province; Mộc Châu district, Son La province
  • Lao PDR: Vienthong district, Huaphan province

CIFOR actively contributes towards ASFCC and partner-organized events by generating and sharing evidence through science and research, and engaging with stakeholders to inform policy and practice in social forestry.

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